KUALA LUMPUR: The Communications and Multimedia Ministry is proposing for internet connectivity to be listed under utilities on par with water and electricity supply, as part of its efforts to expand broadband penetration nationwide.
Spearheading the move is its minister Gobind Singh Deo, who said internet connectivity could be considered a daily necessity in an age where it plays a pertinent role in various aspects of development including the economy.
He said the recent 5G broadband pilot project showcased the significance of data connectivity in everyday use in the fields of agriculture, medicine and transport among others.
“I am in the process of proposing to the government to tailor a policy in which internet connectivity will be listed as a utility, which means that it (the service) will be given the same emphasis just like water and electricity.
“We need to understand that it is (becoming) as important as daily necessities such as water and electricity. It will become something that we will require daily as the years go by.
“We need to accept the fact that all (countries) in the world will progress with the help of such connectivity. That is why the government is taking proactive measures to ensure that it will be provided to all Malaysians.
“No matter where (in the country), there needs to be connectivity," Gobind told journalists during a special interview at his office in Angkasapuri on Monday.
Gobind said the success of the proposal could also see, among others, internet connectivity or facilities become a requirement in physical developments involving residential or office buildings.
“I have already discussed with the housing and local government minister (Zuraida Kamaruddin), during which we have proposed for the need to ensure that all buildings in new development projects, be it residential or offices, be equipped with internet connectivity (facilities).
“Subsequently, in the future, we will not be seeing any building without internet connectivity... (previously people had to) meet with contractors to set fibre optic cables, which takes time and costly. We want to overcome such problems.
"This is also among the objectives set by my ministry. We understand and accept the importance of internet connectivity."
On a separate matter, Gobind expressed discontent over an apparent delay by relevant authorities in taking action against cases of alleged offences involving gross insults against race, religion and the Yang Di-Pertuan Agong in social media.
Gobind said the Malaysia Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) had extended its cooperation to the police, which, unfortunately, he claimed, was not seen to be expedient in resolving such cases.
"If we have laws, we need to be ready in implementing them. So when a police report has been lodged, we need to take action with haste. The MCMC can only do everything within its jurisdiction. But to make an arrest or charge is beyond my ministry's authority.
"I have said it repeatedly, and today I will say it openly because I think the people need to know why there is no action. I had a meeting last week (during which) I had requested to the police and Attorney-General to update me if there are restraints.
"Tell everyone on what is actually taking place. If an offence has been committed, please take action. Otherwise, it paints a picture that it is as if the MCMC is the one not doing anything, although we had actually done our part.
"I am still waiting. Why is there a delay? We all saw what had happened (the postings). We are all against it."